Wrong Breathing is responsible for your Anxiety and Stress

We are living in an era of "6-Pack-Abs", where showing off your abdominal muscles is the proof of your fitness. Fitness freaks, especially men, pull their stomachs inside and breath with their chest and shoulder muscles to show their large chest. These so-called proofs of fitness have changed our breathing pattern and is a major culprit behind increasing anxiety and stress in adults.

Which muscles are associated with our Breathing process ?

Breathing is not just expansion and contraction of lungs, our muscular system is also heavily involved in it. Primary muscles that bear 80% of force used in breathing belong to powerful muscles of the diaphragm, the abdomen and the intercostal muscles between the ribs. Remaining 20% force is applied by smaller secondary muscles of neck, shoulders and upper ribs.

In order to develop abdominal muscles people take their body-fat percentage too low which creates a negative impact on their well being. Know about importance of appropriate body fat

How wrong breathing make us Stressed ?

Our belief that abdominal area should be as narrow as possible with 6-pack Abs, has interfered with our natural breathing. The 80% force that should be applied with muscles under the lungs, has been reduced and majority of people are using their chest muscles, shoulder muscles and neck muscles to take majority of breathing force. So those muscles while are meant for just 20% breathing force are getting much more burden of overload. During the day-time we remain stressed only due to wrong breathing pattern, however while sleeping we go back to natural process of breathing. We automatically get relief from stress after a sound sleep.

Understanding Anxiety and Stress due to wrong breathing

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Stress is pressure or tension exerted on a material object OR a state of mental or emotional strain. Our body and our feelings are heavily connected to each other. When our muscles remain under prolonged physical stress, it is obvious that it will create mental stress and anxiety. Those who sit for long hours on desk-job in front of files or computers normally don't do proper breathing. Most of them think more about their sitting posture to get relief from back pain, but never think about breathing pattern.

Shallow breathing occurs with our upper muscles (neck, shoulder and chest), while full capacity of lungs is used when we breathe with our diaphragm and abdominal muscles to take deep breaths. 

What Ayurveda tells about Breathing and Stomach ?

Ayurveda is an ancient science of health and well being which is not just associated with your body but with our mind as well. According to ayurveda, a healthy person should have a lean and slim body, but tightness of stomach is considered bad for both breathing and digestion. Several digestive issues are related to tight stomach such as gastric and intestinal disorders. Belly breathing, which is the natural breathing provides sufficient oxygen for digestive process and saves you from digestive disorders. Belly breathing provides sufficient amount of oxygen for our metabolism to work properly.

Deep breathing for a few minutes before a meal improves digestion. Apart from improving gut health it also manages stress and help in getting quality sleep.

Improve your Breathing and Well Being

Breathing Exercises are used in various meditation practices around the world. "Pranayaam" a form of Yoga, covers all aspects of breathing exercises that are not just beneficial for health of your body but also your mind. In different philosophies, our mind is considered as originator of emotions, both positive and negative, and its status changes involuntarily with our breathing. Those who know breathing techniques can control their mind by controlling their breath. Here we will basically tell you about those breathing exercises that can reduce your Anxiety and Stress level.

Alternate nostril breathing

It a type of Pranayam, also know as Nadi Shodhana or Anuloma viloma. It reduces stress, balances emotions and increases concentration. Steps to perform it are listed here.

  1. Sit on a chair or on a plain surface with folded legs. If you can sit in padmasana or ardh-padmasana then it is best.
  2. Sit comfortably with your spine straight and relax for a few seconds with long deep breaths.
  3. Put your right-hand's index-finger and middle finger jointly in the middle of your forehead at the center of your eyes. It will act as anchor for free movement of your thumb and ring-finger.
  4. Press your thumb over your right nostril to close the air-passage and inhale through left nostril.
  5. After pausing for a little while, lift your thumb and press your left nostril with your ring-finger. Now exhale through right nostril. 
  6. Wait for a while and inhale through the same. After a pause block your right nostril by pressing thumb and exhale through left nostril.
  7. Keep repeating steps 4 to 6 for five minutes.

Skull shining breath

It is also known as Kapalbhati pranayama, which is best know for its anti-depression effect. It balances our nervous system, relaxes your mind and provides feeling of happiness and calmness. Steps to perform it are listed here.

  • Sit up straight with your palms down on your thighs.
  • Inhale full deep breath through your nose.
  • Exhale quickly and forcefully through your nose by pulling your abdomen inside.
  • Let inhalation happen naturally and let your lungs fill air inside without exerting any force. 
  • Keep repeating the forceful exhalation and natural inhalation.
  • One-exhalation per second is the sufficient speed to do that.

Ideal time to perform these breathing exercises: Morning and Evening time, at least 45 minutes before breakfast or dinner is considered best. 5 to 10 minutes of these breathing exercises (pranayam) is sufficient for whole day. However you may practice it any time of day if you are feeling stress or anxiety.

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